Pratt & Whitney Machinists Approve New Contract

WALLINGFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Machinist union members who work at jet-engine maker Pratt & Whitney narrowly approved a new three-year contract Sunday, signing off on a deal that includes 2.5% pay raises each year and a $2,000 ratification bonus.

Union leaders had recommended workers reject the contract, which takes effect Monday and will cover about 2,800 Pratt & Whitney employees at the company's headquarters in East Hartford and its plant in Middletown. The final vote was 1,119 to 1,033, according to the union's chief negotiator, Mike Stone.

Stone said union officials opposed the contract because about 100 union members are slated to lose their jobs and the positions won't be refilled because of relocation of certain materials work to a third-party provider. Pratt & Whitney officials said there will be voluntary separation packages for 140 employees because of the change to materials work.

"It was a close vote," Stone said. "About 100 people's jobs are on the line."

The contract covers members of locals 700 and 1746 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Pratt & Whitney officials said they were pleased with the new contract.

"We had challenging issues on the table, and we worked together to deliver a new contract that treats our employees in a fair and responsible way," Pratt's human resources vice president, Nadia Villeneuve, said in a statement Sunday.

The company said the contract includes the pay raises, ratification bonuses and no medical cost increases until 2015. It also contains increases to pension and 401(k) retirement plan benefits.

Pratt officials said the new contract also provides a 50% increase in matching contributions to workers' 401(k) plans and an additional $1,000 lump sum payment.

Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of Hartford-based United Technologies Corp., employs about 32,000 workers worldwide, with about 15,000 in the United States. It has about 9,000 employees in Connecticut, with about 3,000 covered by the contract, the company said.

In the first nine months of the year, Pratt & Whitney posted revenue of $10.4 billion, up 3% from the same period in 2012. Operating profit rose a far stronger 15%, to $1.4 billion in the nine-month period, as the company wrung out more productivity and reduced costs, including axing nearly 1,000 salaried and hourly jobs this year.

Pratt & Whitney President David Hess said in April that its military program likely will falter in the short term as the company transitions from military engines such as the F-22 that have ended production. However, engine orders are expected to pick up in a few years with an increase in production of joint strike fighter engines.

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